Readers Respond, Share Complaints and Savings Strategies
A few weeks ago you shared mail from a reader who chastised you for shopping at a mall store that later went out of business. She claimed that if you had shopped full-price at that store more often, it would not have. I am tired of the prevalent attitudes today that we all must support every business out there and it is the customer’s fault if the store doesn’t succeed. If a store goes out of business and has sales to clear out the merchandise, there is nothing wrong with buying clothes on closeout for your family.”
I appreciate your comment. It never ceases to amaze me how many emails I receive from readers who feel shoppers have a responsibility to buy items (no matter what they are!) at full price in order to “keep the store in business.” I do believe in patronizing local stores, but I’m also a price-conscious consumer. My first responsibility is to my family’s bottom line – to stay within our monthly budget and seek out the best prices for the things we need.
I got a coupon from the register machine on my last trip to the supermarket for $1.50 off a pint of ice cream. When I went to use it at the cash register, the cashier really scrutinized my coupon. She looked at the picture of the ice cream, which said ‘230 calories’ on the carton. Then she asked the person bagging to take the ice cream out. She looked at the carton I bought, which said ‘300 calories,’ then said I could not use the coupon because the calories didn’t match!
I pointed out that the coupon said it was good on any flavor of this brand of ice cream pints and asked her if she could just try scanning it. Of course the coupon went through, but she said ‘next time I’m going to be watching you.’ What do you think of this?”
I’ve heard my share of strange tales from the checkout over the years, but this one really takes the … ice cream. While I’ve certainly experienced cashiers who’ve tried to match the photo on a coupon with the variety of product I’m buying, I’ve never had a cashier attempt to match the number of calories on the package shown on the coupon to those of the item I’m buying.
Cashiers are correct to verify that the correct item is being purchased, but the descriptive text on the coupon instructs cashiers on what item or items the coupon is valid – not the photo. That said, unfortunately many people do try to beat and cheat the system with coupons by using them on products for which they are not intended. Stores may not be reimbursed for coupons that they accept, but cannot show valid purchases for. It’s possible your local store may have been affected by this kind of activity, and your cashier was trying (albeit a bit overbearingly) to make sure all of the coupons were valid.
I have a shopping victory to share. As the seasons have changed, I have kept my eyes open for seasonal deals on things you have mentioned in your column. Over the past few weeks I have bought the following things on clearance: 25-cent paper towels and napkins with summer prints (palm trees, surfboards) and numerous spray air fresheners and scented candles in spring and summer scents. Those were marked down to $1.69 each, and I had coupons for $3off two. I got them for just 19 cents each! I never paid attention to how many things are seasonal in nature and these are things we will use all year long in our household.”
Congratulations on your savings! The change of seasons is a great time to look out for these kinds of deals, and it’s not just the summer-to-fall transition. As fall changes to winter, watch for pumpkin and apple spice air fresheners with clearance tags, while cranberry and pine scents appear – at full prices.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.